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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 16, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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at 5:00. as a reminder, lester holt is up next. >> we hope to see you back, see you soon. tonight, the deadly winter blast and the new threat on the move right now that monster storm leaving at least 28 people dead and millions without power in the record-shattering cold deadly tornadoes in the south and now the new danger along the same path. al roker tracking it the growing variant threat and where the uk strain was just found in a 4-year-old this as the first federal mass vaccination sites open plus we talk to the doctor who raced to give out doses before they expired why it cost him his job and landed him in trouble with the law also, we tell you what's safe to do and not to do after you're fully vaccinated former president
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trump coming out swinging at mitch mcconnell after the senate's top republican said trump was morally responsible for the capitol riot what trump is now threatening to do to republicans who stood against him. our series "kids under pressure." savannah guthrie talking to students at her former high school what stresses them out most in the pandemic and the hero sanitation worker. the surprise he spotted in the back of his truck just in time >> announcer: this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt good evening, everyone caught between the vise of back-to-back storms and unthinkable cold, millions in texas tonight are living a freezing nightmare without power, huddled against subfreezing temperatures after an extreme winter weather system that's led to at least 28 deaths and now tonight a second storm following virtually the same path as the one that brought brutal conditions from texas to new england this week we'll take you into
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the heart of it in a moment we're also taking a closer look at the drop in covid-19 infections even in places that had few restrictions what does that tell us about lockdowns? plus we've got savannah guthrie's frank conversations with high schoolers about stress and anxiety in our series "kids under pressure." but let's start tonight with the unfolding weather disaster in texas and morgan chesky. >> reporter: tonight a frigid icy fate facing millions of americans. from washington to maine, winter storms claiming at least 28 lives. subzero conditions shutting down entire states >> got a little chilly in here. >> reporter: in texas new record lows. dallas dipping to negative 2 the coldest day since 1949 >> we're huddled under all the blankets that we have. >> reporter: here in dallas the power outages have been widespread and across the state the cold snap's turned into an all-out crisis more than 4 million households left in the dark fighting to stay
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warm steve rivera couldn't let his wife, alejandrina, get any colder so he turned to a neighbor with a fireplace for the first bit of warmth in days over the past three days how much power have you had >> basically about three hours all total. >> reporter: three hours? >> yeah. >> reporter: the same winter blast plunging louisiana into a deep freeze and in north carolina. >> multiple houses gone, nothing but foundation >> reporter: a rare february tornado tearing through a coastal town, leaving three people dead. >> it's truly, truly was a disaster last night. >> reporter: for many in texas the fear tonight, another round of snow and no idea when power is coming back >> we're just keeping our fingers crossed that at some point today it will come back on. but you know, we'll just continue to live in the 19th century until then >> reporter: and tonight with frustrations mounting over those power outages texas governor greg abbott calling
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for accountability and an investigation into the state's electric council, describing them over the last 48 hours as anything but reliable lester >> all right, morgan, thanks let's get to that next big storm right behind this one al roker is tracking it all al, what's next? >> lester, right now we've got 112 million of us under some sort of winter weather alert. we are watching for the severe storms. again, the possibility of tornadoes through the southeast and along the gulf coast icing stretching from texas into tennessee and from asheville, north carolina to allentown, pennsylvania we're also expecting snowfall rates in the northeast up to one inch per hour over the next 48 hours and brutal cold with wind chills of 15 in albuquerque to 1 below in st. louis and that cold air lasts into early next week. lester >> all right, al, thank you. let's turn now to the race to get americans vaccinated more than 39 million people have now received at least one dose, and hospitalizations continue to decline,
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now at about 65,000. but with vaccine supply problems thousands of appointments have been canceled by hospitals in new york and detroit. miguel almaguer has the latest >> reporter: emerging as the pandemic's most serious threat, tonight new variants of the virus are being discovered in more pockets of the nation. in massachusetts the uk strain found in a patient as young as 4. in connecticut authorities now confirming their first case of the south african variant. >> i'm pretty concerned. i feel like this is kind of the last big storm before vaccines really pull us out of this pandemic. >> reporter: with dr. fauci now saying the general public may not have access to vaccines until may or june, another brutal blast of cold weather put a freeze on new shots in several states today but in seattle, a historic snowstorm didn't stop 90-year-old fran goldman from walking six miles to get her dose
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>> there's no driving, and i thought what's the alternative? so i decided i would walk >> reporter: meantime, supersites like the oakland coliseum and cal state los angeles are also open for the first time, inoculating the underserved. >> it's important to get it out there and protect all of us as a group. >> reporter: outside houston hasan gokal went from renowned doctor to alleged criminal after a vaccine vial had been opened at his suddenly empty distribution site, ten doses would go to waste in six hours. >> there was this urgency and fear that i needed to get this thing done, i cannot in good conscience waste this stuff >> reporter: scrambling to inoculate acquaintances and even strangers, gokal had only minutes left to give out his last dose before it expired. he inoculated his wife, who has underlying conditions, and was charged with vaccine theft the next day. >> what went through your head when you were charged with a crime? >> that had to be the toughest -- that had
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to be the toughest day of my life everything just collapsed at once. >> reporter: a judge later cleared the doctor, who was fired, of any wrongdoing. but tonight the fight for vaccines and who gets them first remains as heated as ever >> and miguel joins us now. miguel, there's some new information out there about kids and covid. what is it >> reporter: lester, here in the u.s. more than 3 million children have contracted covid and in the city of los angeles elementary schools are set to reopen but it's unclear if teachers want to return to the classroom. lester >> all right, miguel, thanks now to the new showdown growing between former president trump and the top republican in the senate, mitch mcconnell. our peter alexander has the latest >> reporter: tonight just days after his acquittal a blistering attack from former president trump directed squarely at mitch mcconnell. mr. trump unloading on the senate's top republican for his "dedication to business as usual. and mocking him as a
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dour, sullen and an unsmiling political hack arguing the republican party will not win again with mcconnell as its leader. mr. trump vowing "i will back primary rivals who espouse making america great again and our policy of america first." it comes after mcconnell, who voted to acquit the former president, later condemned his actions as a disgraceful dereliction of duty. >> president trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office >> reporter: tonight president biden is trying to put his predecessor's impeachment trial in the rearview mirror, heading to milwaukee to make a public pitch for his covid relief package. the biden administration today announcing more help for homeowners struggling with payments, including extending a moratorium on foreclosures through the end of june meanwhile, the nearly $2 trillion covid plan faces fierce republican resistance over its price tag, with mcconnell arguing that opposing the costly deal "will help unify our party. but that clash between mcconnell and the former president could grow you just heard mr. trump say that he will get involved in republican primary races. and earlier today mcconnell suggested he
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will too lester >> peter alexander at the white house this evening. thanks and a program note savannah guthrie interviews vice president kamala harris tomorrow morning on "today. one of the big outstanding questions about the covid pandemic, just where and how did it originate. tonight, exclusive new reporting on the search for answers in china. here's keir simmons. >> reporter: tonight the world health organization team investigating covid-19 says it most likely originated from animals. american and western government officials say the united states still isn't ruling out other possibilities, including a research lab accident, though many scientists say that's unlikely. one western intelligence official telling nbc news, "the u.s. has substantial intelligence that has not been made public about actions the chinese government took related to the wuhan lab and other issues designed to obscure the origins of covid-19 and conceal its impact early on. this month president
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biden's secretary of state told andrea mitchell china is not being transparent. >> that lack of transparency, that lack of being forthcoming is a profound problem and it's one that continues. >> reporter: in fall of 2019 w.h.o. investigators say they've seen no evidence of a lab leak and are focusing on the early outbreak, trying to determine if it was larger than reported china's official case count in december of 2019 is 174. >> actual infections is probably much higher >> reporter: investigators say china did not yet provide enough specifics about those early cases. instead, they released more general data. >> in the ideal world you'd go through it patient by patient to see how it was done. and we didn't quite get to that stage. >> reporter: the two government officials who spoke to nbc news say the evidence the
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u.s. has about china's actions is significant though inconclusive. tonight one crucial question is will it ever be published? lester >> keir simmons, thanks in just 60 seconds, the dos and don'ts after getting vaccinated plus our special series "kids under pressure." and what worries them most
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covid cases are dropping across the country, but with vastly different approaches by different states so what can we learn by comparing, say, california and florida? here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: from coast to coast the war against covid has looked very different. in california among the strictest lockdowns. >> we are now seeing and introducing a regional stay-at-home order in the state of california >> reporter: in florida video after video of lax mask wearing and a much faster push to reopen. >> we've lifted our state up we've saved our economy. >> reporter: but both states have seen similar improvements in the last few weeks.
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about a month ago california had 56 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. florida had 35 now they're similar. as for total covid cases, california has about 8,600 per 100,000 people florida about 8,400. and if you compare covid curves for both states, while florida was hit harder per capita during that first spike, they're pretty similar considering california's population is nearly double leading some to question whether lockdowns like those in california have been effective experts say it's complicated. >> people act locally. so even though california had a statewide stay-at-home order people in, for example, san diego, los angeles, orange county were still moving about and there were still crowds forming. >> reporter: other factors may have contributed to florida's improvement such as fewer people traveling there from the northeast and more of the state's older population becoming eligible for the vaccine. >> you had the governor not issue strict stay-at-home orders but you did see
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some towns react by putting into place measures that really discouraged in-person gatherings >> reporter: but as both states grapple with the economic fallout and the social impact on children, a heated public health debate is under way. gabe gutierrez, nbc news if you're one of the millions fortunate enough to have gotten the covid vaccine, what's safe to do afterwards and what activities should you still avoid? katie beck looks at that for us. >> reporter: as the vaccine rolls out and more americans roll up their sleeves -- >> it feels like freedom. you know like somebody's letting me out of a cage >> reporter: a shot of relief >> my mom lives ten minutes away and i haven't been able to hug her in a year. >> reporter: but for some questions about life after vaccination. dr. eleanor murray says it's a phased approach but about two weeks after a second dose it's okay to socialize with others who are fully vaccinated >> you can get together you can take fewer precautions.
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you know, you don't necessarily need masks on >> reporter: visits with grandchildren and returning to a favorite place also okay while being mindful that you may still be able to spread the virus. >> people are eager to get back to some activity, routine they might have had >> you're probably safer to go back to doing those things i think that the concern would, again, be making sure that the staff at the gym, other patrons at the gym are also protected. >> reporter: the next phase, herd immunity estimated when 60% to 80% of the population are fully vaccinated and finally, international immunity, not likely before 2022. while shots go out, masks still a must in public but doctors say vaccines are finally giving us hope katie beck, nbc news we're going to turn now to our week-long series "kids under pressure." and more on our groundbreaking study on the weight teens have been carrying over the last year our savannah guthrie spoke with students at
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her former high school about what worries them the most. >> always someone who found joy in getting involved in school miriam barraza perez has struggled to adjust to life upended by the pandemic. what has it been like to be away from your friends? >> i haven't seen them in months. so it's been really difficult. i don't have a support system >> reporter: she's a junior at amphitheater high school in tucson, arizona, a school i know well. but instead of a traditional high school experience miriam and other amphi students have been remote for most of the last year. returning to hybrid learning for the first time this semester on monday a welcome change from the endless hours of online class do you feel more stressed because you have to learn in zoom and on a computer? >> it does get stressful. just because i feel like this year a lot of students had to learn these topics on their own. >> the anxiety over school leading to more
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frequent headaches >> there's times where my mental health is worse than other days. but it's gotten better >> reporter: and one of the largest, most comprehensive studies of its kind, nbc news in partnership with challenge success surveyed nearly 11,000 high school students 56% of teens reported their stress related to school increased since the pandemic started. especially among girls and students of color. with more kids pointing to their mental health as a major source of stress >> they're worried about their mental health stressed about it. and we know that that has repercussions for physical health and for more consequential mental health, not just stress but anxiety and depression >> reporter: markayla parish is a junior at thomas jefferson high school in denver her anxiety, she says, has only gotten worse since last spring. >> i didn't want to get out of my bed today. i really didn't. just i wanted to sleep on it today.
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my skin's breaking out more actually because of stress. >> reporter: her school counselor a vital lifeline >> my counselor, she's like my best friend. she's always there for me if i really need something. >> reporter: as part of an ongoing effort to prioritize students' mental health, thomas jefferson changed its schedule to help kids prep for the week. they're also reevaluating grading policies >> they are listening to us. they are >> reporter: for miriam she's grateful for the support from her teachers >> i've had so many times where i feel stressed about all of the homework that i have and the teachers at amphi were so understanding. >> savannah, fascinating hearing what those kids have to say what do they want adults to know about what they've been going through? >> reporter: they just really want understanding. and they want to talk. they said it made such a difference just when their parents asked them how things were and understood they're not trying to slack off, this is just a very difficult circumstance, lester >> yeah, so important we're listening to them savannah, thanks great to have you with
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us tomorrow in our "kids under pressure" series, do students have too much homework and is the pandemic making it worse? we're going to visit one school changing that up next here tonight, what's behind the surge at the pump? in tonight's "price you pay.
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this is a no-nonsense message from three. small business insurance is usually so complicated, you need to be a lawyer to understand it. that's why three was created. it's a better kind of business insurance. it's only three pages. straightforward. if you own it, three covers it. got a cheese slice for "spokesperson?" that's me. i don't even need to see what's happening behind me to know it's covered. (screaming) this commercial is now over. logo. three. no nonsense. just cmon sense. well, it's not your imagination prices at the pump have been inching up over this week jo ling kent explains why in "the price you pay. >> reporter:
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nationwide a rare spike in gas prices in the middle of winter hitting consumers hard >> it's very expensive. i drive a lot. >> reporter: according to aaa, the average for a gallon of regular has spiked 14 cents over the last month alone. with the highest increases in florida, connecticut, utah and in idaho up 20 cents a gallon >> it's unheard of seeing such a spike in middle of february when demand tends to be lower >> reporter: the price hike is driven by a one-two punch, a freezing winter weather shutting down 20% of the nation's oil refineries, mostly in texas and a new surge in demand for gas as the country begins to recover. >> as global demand has come back in recent months, oil producers have not met the rise in demand >> reporter: in a way does that mean it's good for the economy that we're in a better place? >> gas prices going up are a sign of a country mending from covid-19 it's a sign that we're getting back out on the road >> reporter: here in california gas prices are the highest across the country and they're expected to get worse nationwide gas buddy predicting
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prices will go up by 10 to 50, 5-0, cents a gallon in the coming months lester >> all right, jo ling, thanks up next, a boy and his life saver inspiring america.
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finally, a young boy saved thanks to a man with a sharp eye here's kevin tibbles >> i climbed in. >> reporter: folks, this is one lucky kid. >> i was thinking this might be the end for me >> reporter: 7-year-old elias quezada of tampa picked the wrong place to play hide and seek, in a trash can all of a sudden the garbage truck arrived. its mechanical arm scooped up the can and dumped elias into a mountain of trash in the back >> i almost thought i was going to be a mashed potato. >> reporter: waste trucks crush and squeeze trash down to a quarter of its original size. but driver waldo fidele saw something out of the corner of his eye and paused >> i see something drop >> and the next thing i hear was the sound of the truck and a guy screaming. >> i see him, he says help me, help me i said okay. >> reporter: that split second saved elias's life
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he escaped with just a cut on his wrist >> i don't like trash cans anymore >> reporter: but that doesn't mean he won't still have to do his chores and take out the garbage. kevin tibbles, nbc news >> as long as he's not in it, kevin that's "nightly news" for this tuesday thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night . right now at 6:00 the debate over no shows and who gets those left over doses. >> i have friends who are still unable to get appointments to have the shot. it is reprehensible for those who make an appointment and don't show. >> without a wait list we'll show you how santa clara is responding to the thousands of people who don't show up for vaccine appointments. plus, instead of having them come to get the vaccine they're
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bringing the vaccine to their neighborhood. >> we couldn't just open megasites and places that were probably easier for people to drive to. >> the new site in san francisco and new numbers on how many people have gotten their first shot. >> fighting back in oakland's chinatown the store owner who took matters into his own hands after seeing a woman getting robbed. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thanks for being with us. >> we have a coyote that attacked a toddler in the east bay. >> yes, janelle, a coyote, mother, 3-year-old, and baby in a stroller, a terrifying combination, but it happened today. we'll tell you what happened, how they did, and about another east bay attack of a coyote. >> thanks, jessica. we'll see you in a little bit. the oakland coliseum

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